Czech castles and chateaux come to life
The Czech Republic belongs to Europe´s super powers when it comes to its beautiful array of castles and chateaux. There are more than two hundred of these historic buildings spread all over its thirteen regions and during the tourist season they come to life with fascinating cultural programmes. From concerts to theatre performances and period markets showcasing traditional crafts, historic dances and fencing tournaments, the castles always make a fantastic setting. There are special guided tours by night as well which are particularly popular.
Karlovy Vary Region boasts the most beautiful shrine
The Castle and chateau at Becov has been rebuilt several times throughout the centuries and the most recent conversion led to it joining on to the neighbouring chateau. The newly refurbished Becov is now inviting visitors back to take a tour of its beautiful premises. An amazing discovery took place here in 1985 when the shrine of St. Maurus was found. Its value is estimated to be about the same as the Czech crown jewels and the discovery is considered to be one of the most important for the Czech Republic in the 20th Century. It is well worth visiting the castle of Kynzvart which is not far away from Becov. It is located near the nature reserve of Slavkovsky Forrest at the junction of three rivers close to the world famous spa town of Marianske Lazne. It was built as a summer seat for Chancellor Metternich who turned it into a treasury of various collections of art, coins, medals, porcelain and armoury. The adjacent English Park is popular.
Plzeň Region invites visitors to the largest castle ruin
Rabi Castle was founded in the mid-14th century and from then until the end of the 15th century it was constantly being enlarged and fortified. It played an important role in Czech history. Today you can see the remains of the former royal chambers as well as the oldest part of the castle which is a tall tower. The tower used to serve as living quarters and for defence purposes. Under the tower there is a small courtyard housing the castle well which was excavated by hand 60 metres deep into the castle rock. You can reach Rabi on foot, by bike or by taking a boat trip on the river Otava. Whichever way you choose the network of well sign-posted tourist trails as well as properly surfaced cycling trails will always make it a pleasant experience. While in the Plzeň Region, pop in to the gothic water castle of Švihov which is one of the “youngest” Czech castles. Despite its “young” age you will be able to enjoy sculptures and wall paintings dating back to the 16th century in some of its rooms and in the chapel in particular.
Fairy tale castle in the South Bohemia Region
Cervena Lhota Castle was built on top of a rock in the middle of one of the hundreds of South Bohemian ponds. Originally it was a gothic fortress which underwent several periods of change in the renaissance, baroque and contemporary styles. It eventually acquired a striking red roof which gave it its name Cervena Lhota because “cerveny” in Czech means “red”. The Castle is surrounded by an English park. It is particularly popular with film crews as a setting for films and fairy tales. Visitors will also enjoy a visit to the Kratochvile Castle the design of which was inspired by Italian renaissance villas. The building stands in the middle of a walled garden with turrets and a tower gateway. Inside the castle´s walls, which are adorned with wall paintings and stucco decorations, there is a permanent exhibition dedicated to cartoons and puppet films.
Central Bohemia prides itself on a gothic gem of a castle
The easiest way to reach the Cesky Sternberk Castle is to jump on a special train called “Posazavsky Pacifik”. The train will takes visitors on a romantic journey through the beautiful landscape surrounding the river Sazava. It is impossible not to be impressed by the steep walls of this gothic gem. On the return journey to Prague there is the Castle of Pruhonice. The vast castle park is accessible all year round providing a home to numerous precious plants and bushes. A visit in spring is thoroughly recommended when the rhododendrons and azaleas are in bloom creating a beautiful sight. Pruhonice castle park is included on the National Culture Heritage List and the UNESCO list.
Ustecky Region has a castle with an artificial cave
The romantic Castle of Ploskovice is surrounded by an extensive park which was originally designed in the style of the gardens of Versailles. The artificial cave was built in the basement on the south side of the building and features fountains in the shape of sea shells and sculptures of Atlas giants. Krasny Dvur Castle invites visitors for a walk in its beautiful park which ranks among the largest English-style parks in the Czech Republic and includes further smaller buildings, pavilions and lakes.
Largest collection of wall paintings in the Liberec Region
Several curiosities can be found at the Zakupy Castle. There is a personal lift made by Ringhoffer dating back to 1870. It was in the castle chapel dedicated to Francis of Assisi where Ferdinand d´Este was married in 1900. This is where the largest collection of ceiling and wall paintings from the 19th Century by the famous Czech painter Josef Navratil can be found. Visitors can take a stroll through the living and representative quarters of the building as well as through the English park and French garden. There are bears kept in the castle moats. There is the Chateau of Lemberk and Bezdez Castle nearby should visitors be interested in discovering more.
Pernstejn is the “film star” of the Vysocina Region
The mysterious atmosphere of Pernstejn Castle has been attracting Czech and foreign film crews for many years. The Castle has featured in more than 40 fairy tales and films. Pernstejn Castle majestically occupies the top of the rock overlooking the small town of Nedvedice. It is mostly thanks to its location that it has never been conquered in its 800 year history. A tour of the castle, which is built from marble, will take visitors several centuries back in time to a world of beautiful princesses, duelling knights and dangerous bandits. A similar atmosphere to that of Pernstejn can be experienced at one of the most robust homes of the Czech nobility – the Castle of Lipnice nad Sazavou. Visitors will be impressed by the monumental medieval architecture as well as the stunning view of the surrounding landscape. For fans of Jaroslav Hasek´s books about the Good Soldier Svejk there is the opportunity to see his house located in the vicinity of the castle.
Hradec Kralove Region and its literary venue
The baroque Castle of Ratiborice which is set amidst a beautiful natural park and the surrounding area were made famous by Czech novel writer Bozena Nemcova and her novel “Granny” in particular. The picturesque landscape of the so called “Granny´s Valley” is an ideal setting for a nice walk or a horseback ride. The 19th century interior of the castle houses numerous exhibits reminding visitors of the author and the characters from her novels. There is another baroque castle in Chlumec nad Cidlinou which has been dominating the skyline of the town for three centuries. The remarkable thing about this building is its layout which consists of four square wings joined up in the middle by a cylinder-shaped structure.
Visit hippology museum in Pardubice Region
Slatinany Castle is a true paradise for those looking for relaxation or culture and sports. The estate covers several hectares of land including the castle, stables, the English park, and a large forest with numerous sports facilities and a deer park. This region has a long hippology tradition so it comes as no surprise that there is an informative hippology collection at Slatinany Castle. The collection includes a set of objects gathered from many castles and chateaux in the Czech Republic. Should visitors wish to indulge in more history they can pay a visit to Svojanov Castle which was built in 1265 by the Czech king Premysl Otakar II.
Castle wine museum in South Moravia
Situated on top of an impressive rocky promontory Mikulov Castle has been the dominant feature of the town of Mikulov and surroundings for many a century. In the mid-15th Century it was the residence of Perchta of Rozmberk who later became known as the White Lady. And it was here where the negotiations about signing a peace treaty with the Russians were held by Napoleon in 1805. Mikulov is known as the centre of the local wine region and that is one of the reasons why the castle now houses an interesting wine museum. Don´t miss the giant wine barrel located in the castle cellar. It was made in 1643 and it can take 1014 hectolitres which equals about 135000 bottles. While visiting South Moravia, you should also visit the baroque castle of Slavkov near Brno which invites its visitors to stroll through its art gallery and a museum dedicated to the Battle of Austerlitz which took place 1805. After touring the interiors take a walk through the castle park with its baroque garden featuring beautiful sculptures.
The Olomouc region boasts the oldest Moravian stove
One of the most important historic buildings of the region is the Castle of Sternberk with its gothic cylindrical tower, castle walls, gothic chapel with the remains of wall paintings, and several renaissance buildings. Inside the castle there is original furniture, a valuable collection of sculptures and period wallpaper as well as a museum of clocks. For visitors who prefer the ornate beauty of chateaux there is Velke Losiny. The beautiful arcade courtyard opens up into an English park with various kinds of trees and bushes. Inside the chateau there is a unique collection of precious works of art as well as a beautiful tiled stove which is reputedly the oldest in the Czech Republic but definitely in Moravia.
Precious rococo paintings in Moravia-Silesia Region
The baroque Chateau of Kravare is among the most important historic buildings of the Moravia-Silesia Region. There is an exposition dedicated to the army and visitors can also learn about the heraldry of nearby Silesian seats of nobility. The chateau is set amidst a vast English park with numerous ponds and burns and some of its 100 different kinds of trees and bushes are more than 200 years old. The most impressive among them is the trunk of an old walnut tree which is bound with a legend saying that the Empress Marie Theresa cried underneath it when she lost a great part of Silesia in a battle with Prussia in 1742. Visitors can also play golf in the castle park which has a 9-hole course and there is also a cycling trail through the park connecting Jesenik and Ostrava. The Castle of Bruntal will be of interest to anyone who has a passion for wall paintings. The paintings here are in the rococo style and they are of priceless cultural value. The castle library is very interesting and so is the castle art gallery which features works of Italian, Dutch, Flemish, and German masters.
Take a stroll through a priceless castle park in the Zlinsky Region
The Castle of Lesna is a place which should not be missed in this region. Its current design dates back to 1887 when the original castle was torn down and a new palace was built in its place. The new castle was a much more comfortable place to live. There was a central heating system utilising hot water and further luxuries included electricity, water taps with hot and cold water, a home telephone, spacious bathrooms and flushing toilets. The romantic castle park boasts trees and bushes brought in from different parts of Europe, North America and Asia. It is one of the most valuable parks in Moravia. While visiting this castle don´t forget to pop over to the neighbouring Zlín Zoo as well as the nearby Castle of Vizovice.
For more information on the Czech castles and chateaux please visit: www.czecot.com
source: CzechTourism - iNFO bulletin